TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) -- The National Weather Service has an important message for Hoosiers.
With recent freezing temps, we could see ice jams by the end of the week.
An ice jam occurs when pieces of floating ice build up and block the flow of water in rivers and streams. They can occur in two phases, when conditions are very cold in the winter, and when they start to warm up in the spring.
As we've seen in past years, they can sometimes cause damage. In 2018, ice flow damaged a boating dock on the Wabash River at Fairbanks Park. That flow quickly led to an ice jam by the fishing pier that afternoon.
Sam Lashley is the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, said the main concern with an ice jam is flooding.
"When big chunks of that ice come up against a bridge or a steep turn in a stream or a river, it'll act like a dam and the water will start to back up behind it. So, you might get flooding initially behind the ice jam."
Bridges and sharp turns in rivers are the most common places for ice jams. According to Lashley, river levels are currently at or below average so we might not see any severe flooding. However, in the spring, we could see a big change due to the increased amount of expected rain.
"When we get warmer weather or a big rainfall event, then that will actually lead to additional ice jams as the ice starts to break up, there's more water in the stream or the basin, and then those ice chunks start moving," explained Lashley.
Lashley said there is no way to forecast when an ice jam will occur, so the best thing to do is look out for issuances of warnings.
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